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Plea:

Hey everyone, thank you for taking the time to log on and read my award profile, my name is Adam Hendry and I am a very proud Dad to 7 children, 6 angel babies and my step-son Finley.

I must confess, my initial knowledge of the Butterfly Awards was limited to seeing the organisation pop up on social media whilst I was conducting my campaign work, it is amazing how close the baby loss community is; however, it is equally sad how big it is. I have found there are many wonderful people who are willing to help and support anyone who is wanting to change an injustice that leads to people suffering due to child loss.

When I received my first nomination, I looked up the awards and the work that people had been recognised for in the past and was awestruck at some of the achievements that others had been made, I also saw an awful lot of names and organisations that I recognised, ones that have helped myself and Lucy (my partner) overcome our tragic losses, ones that I have been a member of and literally seen save the life of a desperately depressed father in need of help and support.

It was at this point I thought it was nice to have been nominated, however with all the wonderful acts of goodwill in the name of all our angel babies, I honestly was surprised to find myself on the short list for ‘Inspirational Father of the Year’.

My story of child loss is complex and covers many years, two separate mothers and includes every possible type of loss (abortion, early miscarriage, late miscarriage, stillborn, neonatal death.) In fact, the only birth I am yet to witness is that of a live, kicking, crying, healthy baby.

I will try explaining quickly how it came about that I have had 7 children, but only get to share my life with one of them.

In late 2009, just about the time Law Abiding Citizen was in Cinemas (it’s funny what burns into your mind), my partner that I was with fell pregnant, it was a shock to hear the news as we had been taking precautions and although we had discussed children we hadn’t planned to start a family just yet, however, as an extremely paternal guy, I was over the moon to find out that I was to be a real daddy (My nickname in University was The Daddy, given to me by several freshers that I took under my wing).

We discussed the feasibility of bringing up a child in the relationship and our circumstances. My partner decided, against my wishes, to terminate the pregnancy. I found this extremely hard to deal with and tried to do all I could to save the life of my little baby, however, at this stage in pregnancy I soon found there was little I could do, to stop her taking this course of action. I remember been haunted by the lack of parental rights that I had as the father.

As you can imagine this had a major effect on our relationship, for some reason that I am still unable to understand we tried to get our lives and relationship back on track, without going into too many boring details, I found myself in an amazingly confusing, deep, dark situation. I can honestly say if it wasn’t for the support of my mother I may have done something stupid.

During this time, we had a very unsteady relationship with little trust and unresolved issues. We always managed to stay friends and at one point when we were separated she told me that she had since fallen pregnant with twins, however, had lost them both due to an early miscarriage, I was shocked by what I had been told and didn’t take in all the information properly. I remember her saying it had affected her greatly as she wasn’t ‘given the choice’. It was this sentence that mirrored my haunting previously with the abortion and ultimately allowed me to break the vicious cycle we had been trapped in and walk away from the relationship.

The events made me decide to give up on my business as I had lost the drive and determination to give it the required push it needed and I had a career change. It meant I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands.

I filled it by volunteering with the Scouts and helping an 87-year-old man called Patrick out with day to day tasks. He was immensely wise and extremely funny. He changed my outlook on life and taught me a lot of lessons and the value/less of materialistic things.

It was during this time I met my partner Lucy on a dating website, we got along well, I had learnt from Patrick and my experiences that life is simpler when you live it openly and honestly with people, so from that point forwards I vowed never to feel judged by anyone, I would simply tell people how it was and let them decide how they would treat me.

Lucy asked about my past and I told her everything! It is amazing how good it feels to be able to talk freely about such horrible and dark days, it’s like opening the curtains in a stale, smoky, pub the morning after a big party! She was unfazed and in time I was introduced to my wonderful step son Finley, things were going so well we moved in together and planned our family.

We fell pregnant with Matilda in January 2016, things were going extremely well, we spent the summer together as a family doing loads of wonderful things and looking forward to what the future held for us.

On August 14th, I had gone to watch some motorsport, Finley was at his dad’s so I went alone. When I returned Lucy told me that she had not felt Matilda move in a while and asked to go get it checked out. At the hospital, we found Matilda had passed away and would be stillborn at 35weeks. It was devastating news and it was the first time that I had suffered child loss that meant we would be faced with a delivery and lifeless body.

Lucy and I were heartbroken, however, we had each other and an amazing network of family, friends, support groups and charities, which offered us help to deal with our new reality. It always amazes me how much one teddy can change a situation!

In time, we came to terms with the unexplainable loss of Matilda and decided to try again, we instantly fell pregnant and had an early scan which showed that we had conceived twins, Lucy was shocked by the news but I had already had a sneaky suspicion from a dream/premonition I had of me holding twins.

It was amazing news and we all embraced the positivity, I had the negativity under control however it was in the back of my mind. Sadly, it was to be brought into my mind with the reality of Joshua been born as a late miscarriage at 21 weeks and Harriet been born as a neo-natal death 2 days later, showing signs of life but passing away moments later.

We were told by the Midwife that due to the science behind the way in which both the twins were born, Joshua as a late miscarriage would not be registered under the Births Act, yet as Harriet showed signs of life and was classed as a neo-natal death she would require a Birth Certificate.

I immediately said that is wrong! The midwife turned and said I know it’s wrong but that’s how it is, it can’t be changed…. To which I replied, I will change it!

So, I set up a campaign/petition to Amend the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 to include all pregnancy loss.

The general gist of the campaign is to give parents who aren’t currently eligible; due to the archaic legislation, the option to register their baby/pregnancy loss on a national register, with the issuing of a uniform certificate.

The campaign came to a standstill when Brexit and the resignation of David Cameron meant a change in Parliament, luckily, we managed to push to reach the 10K minimum signatures to get a response from the Home Office, all this was done in less than half the normal time allowed.

The bottom line is, that the legislation is archaic and written in the 1950’s, the world has since changed as have our morals, our rights, our understandings and our freedom. The Act needs to be brought up to date and in line with modern times, cultures and lifestyles.

It was summed up by my local MP who said, “Such a little change could make a huge difference to those who fall foul of the current system”.

The response from the Petitions office can be seen online and in my opinion misses many of the unique points I have tried to raise, I fear they may have focused on the previous campaigns (similar but looking to change dates of inclusion) rather than looking at an optional, uniform, national certificate.

(https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/187027?reveal_response=yes#response-threshold)

There are many other campaigns like mine, however, they tend to focus on the movement of dates to include their loss into a category that enables registration. Kym Marsh made amazing awareness of once such campaign, although, I fear they are asking for the impossible, whereas my request is a common-sense answer to the problem. Maybe it is hard to see the problem or a need for a solution, without been placed into the position first hand.

Although my campaign has come to a standstill with the summer recess of Parliament, come September I will be back on the trail for the changes to be made. There is also a ‘Certificate of Loss Bill [HL] 2017-19’ that is awaiting the second reading in the House of Lords, which would be a step in the right direction for modernising the system.

(http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/certificateofloss.html)

What Others Have Said:

‘Adam is unlike any other Daddy I know, he has six angel babies and still continues to be the strongest, most inspiring person I know. He sadly lost 3 babies in a previous relationship and unfortunately we have lost 3 babies in the last 7 months. Our daughter Matilda was sadly stillborn at 35 weeks. Soon after we found out we were expecting twins, our much wanted rainbow babies. Our son was a late miscarriage and our daughter was a neo-natal death meaning one could be registered and one couldn’t. Since then Adam has set up a petition and has been campaigning to amend a law meaning that optional registration of any baby loss would be available to all parents if they wish.’